Cleanup of nuclear weapons plants

(Ref. 506)
Problem Components
Policy issue area: Cities/regions
Policy issue: Environment:
Description: Production of weapon-grade plutonium resulted in huge accumulations of extremely toxic nuclear waste.
Symptoms: Extensive contamination of soil, sediments, surface water and groundwater throughout the nuclear weapons complexes at the Hanford Reservation and the Savannah River complex; vast quantities of hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials released into the environment.
Causes: Poor planning and incompetent management; insufficient safety and environment protection procedures; lack of oversight; secrecy associated with nuclear weapons production kept the problem away from public scrutiny.
Cost of problem: $150 billion for estimated cost of clean-up, plus cost of present and future health problems caused by the contamination.
Solution Components
Resources: Scientific research institutes; toxic waste cleanup companies; governmental regulations and funding.
Goal: 1. Gradually remove, or at least neutralize the most dangerous nuclear waste
2. Develop a long-range plan, and gradually implement the neutralization of the less dangerous pollutants, together with the national toxic waste removal program.
Program area: Ecological development
Program-remedy: 1. Enlarge and fund the development of environmental restoration plans of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy
2. Initiate research on new or improved methods and techniques for locating and disposing hazardous nuclear waste
3. Fund and undertake the massive efforts needed to actually remove or neutralize the hazardous nuclear waste
4. Fund and undertake the public health programs needed to repair the health damage caused by nuclear waste.
Program-prevent: 1. Shut down and terminate the activities related to the production of nuclear weapons
2. Conduct scientific research to replace nuclear fission technology with fusion technology for the production of energy.
Cost of program: -
Beneficiaries: People living in the vicinity of the nuclear waste; the environment.

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